Is a steam mop worth it?
November 27, 2013 6:55 AM   Subscribe

We have all hardwood floors, other than two tiny areas of ceramic tile in the kitchen and bathroom. I have been using a Swiffer WetJet on the floors, but I dread mopping the floors with it because it uses so many pads (we have two dogs in a tiny house so our floors get really dirty), the cleaner refills are expensive, and I don't even think it actually cleans all that well.

I have heard good things about steam mops in general, but terrible things about the Shark brand. My questions are:

1. Is the cost worth it, in terms of cleaning power and durability?
2. What brand/model is the best value for the price?
3. Is it even safe to use a steam mop on (60 year old) hardwood floors?

(And yes, I know that you can make resusable pads for the Swiffer out of microfiber cloths, and that you can figure out ways to refill the bottle. And I know that you can use a mop and bucket to clean floors. But I am looking for a quick/simple/easy/little-effort solution!)
posted by raspberrE to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
1. Yes. Steam mops are pretty amazing. We could never live without ours now.
2. We loved our H2O mop, but the power cord was designed poorly and it shorted out and started on fire. We now have a cheap Bissell steam mop (not sure of the model) and it works pretty much the same.
3. Our floors are from 1939, so they are 74 years old and we have no issues.

There is nothing as nice as walking on a wood or linoleum floor after it has been steamed mopped.

If it makes you feel any better, my opinion is that Swiffer is a very silly idea due to chemicals, waste, and expense. You might think so, too, after you have used a steam mop.

Be sure to read the instructions and use the correct kind of water the manufacturer states (e.g. distilled water).
posted by TinWhistle at 7:13 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

1. Absolutely worth it to me. I've had my steam mop for over 2 years.
2. I have an older model made by HAAN (discontinued). I've heard good things about Bissell.
3. In my experience, steam mops are absolutely safe to use on hardwood floors. The hardwood in my old house was at least 80 years old, if not more.

If you decide to purchase one make sure to buy additional cleaning pads. I change the pads out for each room (or when a spot is particularly messy).
posted by turniphead at 7:13 AM on November 27, 2013

I use a Libman Freedom Mop. It doesn't use electricity and I love the reuable heads. Just throw them in the wash!

I make my own cleaner, and you can get a couple of different bottles (often on discount on the flog-off shelf at the grocery store) so it's easy to swap them out for wood floors and tile.


I had a steam mop in Florida for my tile floors and I found that it was pretty wet, hard to use and kind of a pain.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:13 AM on November 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

if the floors are sealed it is safe. i bought this one and i love it! it cleans incredibly well just using distilled water and the vaccuum portion can deal with the pet hair on my floors. i would highly recommend it. the pads come with it and they are resuable and washable and they do a nice job on tiles and granite as well as sealed hardword.

to test a mop like that out on your wood floors, just use the lowest heat setting at first (ex. on mine "mop" instead of "scrub" is a little lower temperature.)
posted by zdravo at 7:33 AM on November 27, 2013

It's not a steam mop, but I'm a big fan of the Sh-mop. No bucket necessary. Just rinse the cover rag as needed.
posted by ReginaHart at 7:59 AM on November 27, 2013

I have tile and Pergo and love my Shark steam mop. I've had it for two years with no problems at all. It took about a month of weekly (or more) steaming before the Swiffer build up went away but after that the floors were a joy to walk on.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 8:26 AM on November 27, 2013

I don't have, and have never had, a steam mop, so I can't speak to firsthand experience. However, when we bought our house there was a big spot of discoloration on the (solid) hardwood floors, and the previous owner said it happened when their housekeeper used some kind of steam cleaner on them. The guys who repaired it said the heat and moisture caused the top layer of the finish to delaminate, and that it's a pretty common problem they encounter. However, I don't know what kind of steam cleaner it was -- maybe it was something that was clearly not designed for the task. In any case, I think it's worth caution here. At the very least, test it out on an inconspicuous area first.
posted by primethyme at 9:12 AM on November 27, 2013

I was coming to recommend the Libman, but Ruthless Bunny beat me to it. I too found the Swiffer wasteful, and the chemicals made me uneasy, but I loved the convenience of the spray mop unit. With the Libman, I usually use just vinegar and water, and can wash the pads!

To answer your main question, though, go for the steam mop! I have mostly carpets, but if you have mostly hard surfaces, it would definitely be worth it. I have a hand-held steamer I use sometimes in small spaces, and the results are amazing.
posted by LolaGeek at 9:16 AM on November 27, 2013

Cheap swiffer steam mop. It's incredible. What steam does is loosens up all the debris that the vacuum doesn't pick up. Highly recommended.
posted by aeighty at 9:21 AM on November 27, 2013

One of the many mops with removable microfibre pads that go in the wash will work wonders with a spray bottle of water or cleaner to slightly wet the floor.
posted by ssg at 9:35 AM on November 27, 2013

I have this Oreck Steam-It, chosen specifically because it has clips so I can just toss hand towels or microfiber towels on it (I got a pack of 48 for a good price on amazon, they work well).

I highly recommend steam mops in general.
posted by HermitDog at 10:17 AM on November 27, 2013

We love our Eureka Envirosteamer. Great amazon reviews and we got it for under $40 last year in a lightning deal. Works beautifully on wood floors and linoleum.
posted by purenitrous at 10:27 AM on November 27, 2013

We purchased our Shark Steam Mop from Costco, and when it broke within an unreasonable time frame we returned it for another Shark Steam Mop. Works just fine, but like it says, don't add anything but water to the reservoir. We added the smallest amount of essential oil and the reservoir became irretrievably moldy.
posted by lstanley at 12:03 PM on November 27, 2013

I've got a Shark steam mop (to go along with the Shark vacuum), and it does quite a nice job on the tile and hardwoods. No issues.
posted by thomas j wise at 12:40 PM on November 27, 2013

I love love love my Haan steam mop. It is one of the greatest purchases I have ever made in my life. I didn't even realize how squicked out I used to be by my floors. Now: zero squick. My floors are pristine. And it is so satisfying to use. Love.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 1:55 PM on November 27, 2013

I've been converted by my Dyson. Recently got an "all-floors/pet fur" model and if you can get past the "I'm vaccuuming bare floors" weirdness, it's really a beast.
posted by aggyface at 9:29 PM on November 27, 2013

My mother-in-law, who works in a carpentry shop and knows what she's talking about, just told me ten minutes ago not to use a steamer on wood floors because it "raises the grain" (which I presume means something to people who know wood better than I do). She said the steamer companies say they're safe for hardwood floors, but the floor manufacturers say they aren't, and that they just had a customer come in who'd ruined her cherry floors with one.

This is sad, because I just bought a steamer last week and it definitely made my kitchen floor (which is wood) cleaner than the Swiffer, the Scooba, or anything else I've tried did.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:42 PM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you want to refill your Swiffer bottle, you can. It takes a few minutes, but then you can refill it forever, and of course you can fill it with whatever cleaning solution you want (Murphy's oil, woot!).

Bonus: in looking for this Lifehacker article again, I found these reusable pads for Swiffer WetJet, which I will proceed to buy.
posted by nosila at 10:49 AM on November 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

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